Zero Defects, pioneered by Philip Crosby, is a business practice which aims to reduce and minimise the number of defects and errors in a process and to do things right the first time. The ultimate aim will be to reduce the level of defects to zero. However, this may not be possible and in practice and what it means is that everything possible will be done to eliminate the likelihood of errors or defects occurring. The overall effect of achieving zero defects is the maximisation of profitability.
More recently the concept of zero defects has lead to the creation and development of six sigma pioneered by Motorola and now adopted worldwide by many other organisations.
The concept of zero defects can be practically utilised in any situation to improve quality and reduce cost. However it doesn’t just happen, as the right conditions have to be established to allow this to take place. A process, system or method of working has to be established which allows for the achievement of zero defects. If this process and the associated conditions are not created then it will not be possible for anyone involved in the process to achieve the desired objective of zero defects.
In such a process it will be possible to measure the cost of none conformance in terms of wasted materials and wasted time.
Any process that is to be designed to include this concept must be clear on its customer expectations and desires. The ideal is to aim for a process and finished article that conforms to customer requirements and does not fall short of or exceed these requirements. For example, in recent years many financial organisations have made claims regarding how quickly they can process a home loan application. But what they may have failed to realise is that in spending a great deal of time and money reducing processing time they are exceeding customer requirements (even if they believe that they know them). In these cases they have exceeded the cost of conformance when it was not necessary to do so.